Nearly 300 hoteliers from across the country convened in Washington, D.C., April 23-24 for the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Legislative Action Summit (LAS). In roughly 200 appointments on Capitol Hill with key members of the House and Senate, delegates shared their views on the impact that several key issues had on their hotels. These included the sequestration’s effect on domestic and international travel and how the implementation of broad-based immigration reform would increase border security and provide employers greater access to temporary workers.
In advance of their congressional visits, hoteliers heard from prominent voices engaged in the current policy discussions in Washington, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “By understanding and supporting our priorities for growth, our legislators can help the lodging industry continue as an economic powerhouse by bringing more visitors to the U.S. and providing a robust workforce,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president and CEO.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, America’s hospitality industry generated $1.9 trillion in total economic activity and supported 14.4 million jobs in 2011. For every 35 international travelers to the United States, one American job is created. In January 2012, President Obama signed an executive order that implemented a National Travel and Tourism Strategy aimed at attracting 100 million new visitors to the United States annually by 2021.
Congressmen Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), and Michael Grimm (R. N.Y.) recently reintroduced the bipartisan JOLT Act in the House in an effort to increase economic growth, create jobs, and generate U.S. tax revenue. The new JOLT Act would accelerate the process for the 12 countries working to earn Visa Waiver Program (VWP) status, which has been shown to dramatically increase visitation. South Korea brought an additional 1 million arrivals to the United States within a year after being added to the VWP in 2008. The legislation would also reduce visa processing wait times.
Through provisions included in the JOLT Act, AH&LA believes that the lodging industry can recapture America’s historic 17 percent share of worldwide overseas travel, welcome 98 million international visitors to the United States, and create 1.3 million new U.S. jobs by 2020.